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Telcoms being restored, but aftershocks interfere
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More southwestern Chinese counties whose communications links were severed by Monday's massive quake had services restored as of Friday, a day after phone services resumed in Wenchuan County, the epicenter, the Ministry of Industry and Information said.

With the repair of the cable from Wenchuan to Lixian, Wenchuan is now re-connected with the rest of the country via fixed-line communications devices or the Internet.

Maoxian is now able to reach the outside world with cell phone calls from a few areas, with three new base stations in use, but fixed-line communication is still blocked.

The cables from Lixian to Maerkang, Qingchuan and Guangyuan had been fixed and people in these regions were briefly able to make fixed-line or cell phone calls. However, a 5.9-magnitude aftershock jolted Lixian County at about 1:25 pm on Friday, severing those just-restored services.

Telecommunications services in Heishui have largely returned to normal, although fixed-line service is still out.

In Beichuan, four emergency communication vehicles were brought in to provide services for 1,000 fixed-line users and 20,000 cell phone users at a time near the rescue and relief headquarters.

The communications systems in Pingwu were severely damaged by the 7.8-magnitude quake, and workers are rushing to repair the base stations. For the moment, people in Pingwu can only use satellite phones.

Telecommunications service in Mianzhu was back to about 30 percent of its original capacity and fixed-line cables were functioning in parts of the county.

(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2008)

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